Like many artists, I was an avid comic book reader growing up. I started reading Superman and Batman when I was about ten years old. I lived in a small town where comics were not readily available, so I couldn’t believe it when someone told me you could actually subscribe to a comic book! I got a paper route so I could pay for my subscription to Superman. I think it was $9 a year, with a cover price of 75 cents.
I didn’t just read comic books, I studied them. The line work, the anatomy, the poses all fascinated me, and I sometimes copied the art into my sketchbook (John Byrne and Curt Swan were my favorite artists to emulate). My drawings never turned out as well as I hoped but I sure learned a lot. Here’s a photo of me on a fishing trip to Canada. Guess what I did all day while everyone else was out in the boat?
I continued to collect comics into my college years (early 1990’s). By then comics were getting darker and more “adult”, which offended my conservative sensibilities and made them less enjoyable for me to read. Plus, my interests were drifting to other things.
I’ve held onto my collection of over 1,000 comics, and I still occasionally visit the local comic book shops and buy an issue or two if the art really strikes me (although I don’t usually read them). I’ve kept my comics this long with the hopes that they will one day be worth some moolah. My plan was to wait thirty years, sell my collection for a large sum, and maybe buy a new car or help pay for my daughter’s college tuition.
I’ve come to accept that it will never happen.
My dad collects comic books from his childhood (the ’40’s and ’50’s), and they are worth real money because they are rare. He grew up in an era when Congress was having hearings on the dangers comic books posed to society, and many parents were chucking their kids’ comic books into the trash. The idea that comic books might one day be valuable didn’t even occur to most readers.
Not so for my generation. I collected most of my comics at the height of the “comic book bubble” (late 80s-mid 90’s). Comics were all the rage and collectors were snatching up issues ten copies at a time in the hopes of one day selling them and getting rich. Often publishers couldn’t keep up with the demand. The problem is, collectibles (be they comic books, stamps, or beannie babies) are only valuable if they are rare. It’s simple supply and demand.
Unlike my Dad, as my generation gets older this glut of comic books will follow us into old age. I could pass them on to my kids or grandkids, but they won’t value them much because they didn’t grow up with them and therefore don’t have any emotional or sentimental attachment to them. My comic book collection will simply never be as valuable as the comics my Dad collects. (Star Wars action figures on the other hand…)
So, I’ve decided to start weeding through my comic books and selling the issues that don’t have either great art or deep sentimental value. I’m finding a lot of them aren’t worth anything. In my first box of about 200 comics, I only found 12 that were worth more than $5 each (according to comicspriceguide.com), none of which were printed after 1985. Most of my collection is only worth $1-$3 dollars an issue.
Getting someone to pay the full price of what they are supposedly worth is not always easy, and certainly not worth the hassle just to get a dollar here or there. Who’s going to pay me $4 in shipping on ebay just to buy a $2 comic book? Even if one does sell, subtract the ebay selling fee (85 cents) then factor in the time it takes to package up the comic and drive across town to stand in line at the post office, and it’s just not worth it.
Besides, no matter what the Price Guide says the true value of any object is whatever you can get someone to pay for it. The few comics that do have some real cash value I’ll try selling on ebay (I’ll post a link once they are all listed.) I might try selling the rest in “lots” on ebay (i.e. 5-10 at a time). If that doesn’t work, I’m putting my comics in a box and driving them down to the local comic book shop. Maybe I’ll get twenty dollars a box for them. We live in a modest home, and frankly I need the storage space more than I need the extra $100 I might earn from holding on to the comics for another ten years.